The Belgian combat unit known as Fireforce was forged from the ashes of Double Diamond back in autumn of 2008. Despite undergoing multiple line-up changes since then, the band has managed to deliver a steady stream of releases with 3 full-length albums and 2 EP’s. ‘Rage of War‘, their fourth full-length album, was released earlier this year through ROAR! Rock of Angels Records. Fireforce was founded by guitarist Erwin Suetens, who is the sole constant member of the band since its inception, as well as its main songwriter. The other band members are bassist Serge Bastaens, drummer Christophe De Combe and finally vocalist/guitarist Matt “Hawk” Asselberghs, who joined their ranks in 2020.
Like so many bands before them, Fireforce draw inspiration from the inexhaustible well of human conflict. Their music is about historical events and individuals, with stories about bravery on the battlefield and the madness of war. Their music could be described as a mixture of heavy metal and power metal. Unlike the thematically similar Sabaton however, Fireforce‘s music is less anthemic and they don’t incorporate any keyboards in their songs. The band describe their music as “Combat Metal”.
‘Rage of War’ immediately kicks into high gear with the opening title track and keeps the pedal firmly to the metal throughout the next 4 tracks. This is a band that excels at delivering galloping riffs and catchy choruses, with some great guitar solo’s in between. Asselberghs‘ gruff yet melodic vocals are a good fit. He also gets to showcase his vocal range with the occasional banshee-like scream. This is most noticeable on the album’s second single ‘Firepanzer‘.
After the first 5 tracks, things slow down considerably with ‘Forever in Time‘. Unlike those who can’t stand slower ballad-like tracks on albums, I’m a firm believer that variety is the spice of life. ‘Forever in Time‘ offers a welcome change of pace, even if it does somewhat overstay its welcome.
The tempo picks back up with the high-octane ‘108-118‘ and the subsequent tracks. The second half of the album features some less memorable tracks, but it does end on a high note with ‘From Scout to Liberator‘ and ‘Blood Judge‘. The final track ‘Tale of the Desert King‘ showcases a slightly different side of the band with a more oriental flavour.
The cover artwork was provided by Eric Philippe, who also made the artwork for Fireforce‘s very first EP and full-length album. Previous album covers from Fireforce usually depicted more fantastical elements, which made you expect a full-on power metal album with synthesizers and songs about dragons and myths. I like how this new artwork depicts a more historically realistic battlefield (with the exception of the Eddie-lookalike characters) as this is more representative of the album’s sound and lyrical content.
What I dislike about this album however, are the differing tracklists depending on the chosen format. The album contains 13 tracks in total, but you only get 10 or 12 of them depending on the format which you listen to. The CD includes 3 exclusive tracks (‘Rats in a Maze‘, ‘A Price to Pay‘ and ‘Blood Judge‘) while the vinyl only includes 1 exclusive track (‘Tale of the Desert King‘). Luckily the complete tracklist can be found on Spotify and on Youtube.
Despite this in my opinion small shortcoming, ‘Rage of War‘ is possibly Fireforce‘s most accomplished entry in their discography. I look forward to experiencing their brand of combat metal live at the Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival in less than a month.
Release date: January 15th, 2021
Label: ROAR! Rock of Angels Records
- Rage of War
- March or Die
- Ram It
- Forever in Time
- Army of Ghosts
- Rats in a Maze (CD exclusive)
- A Price to Pay (CD exclusive)
- From Scout to Liberator
- Blood Judge (CD exclusive)
- Tale of the Desert King (Vinyl exclusive)